Authorities found a mass grave of babies in a Catholic home care compound in Ireland. The remains of the infants ranged from newborn to three-years-old. The location of the mass grave was in the sewers of a former Church-run home which took in unmarried mothers in Ireland.
The Bon Secours Sisters, a religious order of Catholic nuns, run the home from 1925 to 1961. They took in unmarried pregnant women to help them to give birth. The system separated the women from their children. The nuns raised the children until an adoption came by while the mothers stayed elsewhere.
The Irish government started the inquiry due to the discovery of a local historian
The report from the government’s inquiry in 2014 backed up local Tuam historian, Catherine Corless’ claims. Corless claimed that there were up to 800 children that are lying in an unmarked grave at the orphanage. The historian found death certificates of nearly 800 children who were residents of the facility. However, Corless only found two burial records. The report stated, “significant quantities of human remains have been discovered in at least 17 of the 20 underground chambers which were examined”.
The process called radiocarbon dating concluded that the remains of the 35-week-old fetuses to three-year-old remains dated back in 1925 to 1961. The government formed the commission to launch an inquiry after Corless claimed about an unmarked graveyard at the facility. Moreover, Corless’ 2014 discovery puzzled the authorities due to the fact that the records showed 800 deaths but there were only two burial records.
Unmarried pregnant women and children born out of wedlock were seen in a negative light
The Church ran home was one of the many facilities of Ireland in the 20th century. The orphanage was home to unmarried women which included rape victims. During that time, the general consensus viewed unmarried mothers, as well as their children as a stain to Ireland’s image. At that time, Ireland had an image as a devout Catholic nation. The system also became a problem for the fathers of the illegitimate children. Records suggested that some of the fathers were powerful figures like priests and wealthy men.
Ireland has once had a powerful Catholic Church. However, a series of scandals regarding child abuse and neglect rocked the devout nation. The Archbishop of Tuam, Michael Neary, stated that the discovery horrified and saddened him.
The government records revealed that during the 1930s, 40s to the 50s, the mortality rate of illegitimate children were higher. In fact, the mortality rate was five times higher than the children who were born from married parents. More than one in four children born out of wedlock died during the early 20th century.
— Raveen Aujmaya (@raveenaujmaya) March 4, 2017